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Full text of "History And Human Relation"


mistake if we treated it as either the equivalent or the
substitute for what we might call "prophecy"—the
final teaching on the subject of man and his destiny, thfc
ultimate revelation of the meaning of life on the earth.
An economic interpretation of history (in so far as it is
valid at all) must not be supposed to bear the implication
that man can live by bread alone; on the contrary it
carries rather the implication that in the historical realm
at least man, however spiritual he may be, cannot live
without bread. Such an interpretation, furthermore,
can never go so far as to deny the power of ideas in
life—it must stand rather as a thesis concerning those
factors which condition the origin, the development and
the currency even of ideas. Given that men have
brains, certain things set limits to the operation of the
intellect. An economic interpretation of history says
that some economic factors set inescapable limits,
though they can hardly be regarded as setting the whole
of these* The Marxist interpretation or method should
be envisaged in the same light*

When it comes to the question of historical inter-
pretation people may have all the evidence before them
and may get the externals of the story correct, and yet
may go astray by putting the story, so to speak, in the
wrong universe. It is one of our optical illusions, for
example, to imagine Philip II of Spain more free than
he really was, just as we fail to realise how our thinking
must be conditioned through having to be done under
the limitations of the English language. We fail to see
how Philip II was limited by his world and hemmed
iji by all kinds offerees and conditioning circumstances;